Cambridgeshire villages vying for top TV award
Histon and Impington hoping to charm the nation
Two close-knit South Cambridgeshire villages are in the running for a national TV award. Histon and Impington are in the final stages of the Channel Four TV series Village of the Year.
Presented by one of the nation’s favourite actresses, Penelope Keith, the villages are hoping to reach the semi-finals from a shortlist of more than 400 applicants throughout the country. Ms Keith and her team of three expert village judges will run the rule over the finalists before one eventually collects the £10,000 first prize and is crowned champion.
Villages are grouped into four main regions with the winner from each area going through to the latter stages of the competition. Ms Keith visited Histon and Impington with her film crew and judges back in July and the villages will be featured again in another show set for broadcast on February 1 at 3pm.
Angela Young, Histon and Impington parish clerk, who applied to the programme in the spring of last year, says the villages have the kind of history and diversity which befits the criteria of the competition.
Ms Young said: “Histon is home to Chivers jam and acres of strawberry fields and was the birthplace of, and until recently, home, to Unwins seeds – the families are well-known and synonymous with the villages.
“Samuel Pepys’ uncle lived in Impington Hall and he visited often, writing about it in his diary. German architect Walter Gropius designed our village college and Moses Carter was Histon’s own gentle giant.
“Standing over seven feet tall, he had to be cut in half to be buried as he was too big to fit in one plot. The Moses Carter Band which performs locally is named in his honour.
“The business park links past and present employment. Located on Chivers Way, it is still anchored by the jam factory but also houses a number of scientific and high tech businesses, including the internationally respected Internet Watch Foundation which helps to make the internet a safer place. It’s also home to the International Whaling Commission. But it is the community spirit which is possibly its greatest asset.”
The judges tasked with helping Ms Keith select the top village consist of archaeologist and village historian Alex Langlands; garden designer Juliet Sargeant, who broke ground as the first black designer at the Chelsea Flower show and went on to win the gold medal; and fashion designer and presenter of The Great British Sewing Bee – Patrick Grant.
The series finale heats began transmitting on January 15, with a peak show every Saturday at 8pm. The Western zone semi-final will be shown on Saturday, January 20; the South East on January 27; Central zone on February 2 (all at 8pm) while the Northern zone on February 9 will be shown at 3pm.
Ms Young said: “I have been clerk to Histon and Impington Parish Council for 23 years, and have seen first hand what a great community we have. Yes, we have the village green with the brook and ducks and thatched cottages, we have six pubs, five churches and four cafés, but what makes Histon and Impington special is the way we care for each other.
“I think other communities in villages, towns and cities could learn a lot from us. We are very close to Cambridge but still retain, and cherish, the history and heritage, and wonderful benefits, of being a village. The events and activities available to residents and visitors throughout the whole year are amazing, and are often organised by local volunteers and charity groups.
“The annual feast, run by its committee of just six members, is at the centre of much of this, but there is also strong community input and support, for example from the PTAs, the churches and the parish council itself. Everything just dovetails in beautifully. It seems it’s a place where everyone wants to live and it’s been wonderful being part of this celebration of village life in Britain.”
If they were lucky enough to win the £10,000 prize, Ms Young knows how to spend it: “We are lucky to have a number of independent shops in the village but we are keen to preserve its unique character and would love to improve the appearance of the high street in Histon to include flowering troughs, benches, replacing old bollards, and install holders for Christmas decorations/motifs for the whole area to enjoy.”